Author Topic: England's ultimate soccer mum  (Read 692 times)

Offline Gooner

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England's ultimate soccer mum
« on: September 09, 2009, 01:15:00 PM »

Matthew Beard, Sports News Correspondent

When England's women make footballing history tomorrow, two unofficial mascots will be watching midfielder Katie Chapman - her children.

The 27-year-old Arsenal Ladies player is the only mother in the side that will play Germany in the final of the European Championship.

She and her team-mates have already outdone the achievements of their male counterparts by becoming the first England team to reach a European Championship final.

They start as underdogs - but cheering on Chapman at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki will be her sons Riley, one, and Harvey, six.

Chapman's fiancé, Mark Wilkinson, will be pitch-side with the boys, who have been adopted as unofficial team mascots - they even join the players for post-training meals.

Their mother's performances have been boosted by their presence in the three-week championships.

"When they are with me I know they are well and obviously they are my number one fans so it's great to have them beside me," said Chapman, from Sidcup.

Chapman was back in the England squad within months of giving birth to Riley in July last year.

She said: "The demands of international football are huge and it's tough to balance that with being a mum.

"My comeback after childbirth was made a bit easier because when I was pregnant I trained all the way through.

"I was still kicking a football when the boy was kicking inside me. I just followed the same programme the doctor gave me when I was pregnant before, when I played until I was six-and-a-half months pregnant."

Her England team-mate Casey Stoney said: "It's an amazing feat to be an international player and a mum - I think Katie has been our best player in the tournament.

"Every mum wants their kids around. It makes them happy and means they are a better player."

Chapman first played football in primary school and was scouted by Millwall Lionesses before joining Arsenal Ladies, where she modelled her elegant passing game on her idol, Liverpool's Steven Gerrard.

She is among three London-based players in the England team while many in the national squad, including star striker Kelly Smith, play in the US.

England were outsiders going into the tournament. Despite a defeat by Italy in their first match in the group stage, they picked up a win over Russia and a draw with Sweden to set themselves on the road to the final.

They knocked out the host nation in the quarter-finals then reached their first major final for 25 years with a 2-1 win over Holland on Sunday.

Despite the success of the England team, disparity with the men's game remains huge.

The Football Association pays England's women an annual £16,000 - far less than Premier League stars earn in a week - with many supplementing their income with part-time coaching jobs.

Chapman said: "The money could, of course, improve but it's going in the right direction. It helps with the childcare costs."

Match fit - Chapman v Gerrard

Katie Chapman

Age: 27
Teams: Arsenal Ladies, England
Role: Hard-tackling midfielder, ultimate team player
Profile: Part-time footballer, full-time mother. She spends mornings in a gym in Sidcup, leaving her boys in a creche. When playing for England, she leaves childcare to partner Mark Wilkinson, 30, a sports trainer for energy firm EDF
Earnings: £16,000 a year for England plus £100 per Arsenal game.

Steven Gerrard

Age: 29
Liverpool, England
Role: Playmaker, goalscorer, leader
Profile: Liverpool captain Gerrard enjoys demi-god status among fans. Role model reputation intact after he was recently acquitted of affray. Lives in £3 million home with wife Alex Curran
Earnings: Annual £8.5million includes £100,000 weekly wage with Liverpool and endorsements worth £2.5million.

London women with three lions on their shirts

Casey Stoney

Age: 27
Teams: Chelsea Ladies, England
Role: Experienced and strong left back
Subsidises her England wage with her job as head of Chelsea's girls' academy. The earnest Loughborough University graduate is a champion of women's football who publicly attacked Charlton Athletic's closure of their women's team while she was a player there. Touted as a future England manager

Eniola Aluko

[b]Age: 22
Teams:[/b] Saint Louis Athletica (US), England
Role: Pacy striker with three goals so far in the European championships
Profile: Nigerian-born Aluko has made the American league's all-star team after leaving Chelsea Ladies for the US. Her brother Sone plays for Scottish Premier League team Aberdeen. After the Helsinki final, Aluko will study law at Brunel University in London

Faye White

Age: 31
Teams: Arsenal Ladies, England
Role: Tough, tall central defender
Profile: Has suffered several injuries over her career and will play in the final with a mask to protect a fractured cheekbone. The Arsenal community officer was made an MBE in 2006 for services to football and captained England at the 2005 European championship and 2007 World Cup.'s+ultimate+soccer+mum/